A language is the first step towards civilization, its evolution led society towards civilized life. Its development is a centuries-old process that makes languages flourish and attract new signs of civilizations. Individuals or a certain time frame may have contributed to the regulation of a language, but in the long run it is the collective social inclusion that develops a language in its best form. It is strange to say that a language completes its stages of development in a specific time frame, or as religions, the Almighty Chosen People bestow on them for humanity. On the contrary, in this unique protracted process, everyone and everyone, regardless of class, contributed equally and generously.
No matter what the mother tongue is, the ruling elite cannot dictate the expulsion of particular words from a language just because they were developed by followers of different sects or religions, or lower castes. It is an indisputable fact that, despite the basic realities, mother tongues are still the main source of socio-economic development. A mother tongue unites us; it makes us share ideas, beliefs and other routine issues with each other. Hardly difficult to trace the origin of languages; scholars believe that to find the genesis of language, we need to explore the prehistory of 6000 to 5 million years; such research is beyond comprehension. However, in this evolutionary journey of thousands of years, languages evolved in various forms and played a vital role in human development.
There may be a multitude of uncertainties in this age-old journey, but this indisputable reality remains for man to learn to speak a language from his mother or from the house where he grew up. Its mother tongue that unconsciously beautifies man intellectually. Linguists believe that man learns best in his first language, being more familiar with the mother tongue; he can convey his feelings, ideas and needs more accurately than any other language. The main task of any independent state is to ensure the protection of mother tongues, values and culture.
Societies that sacrificed their native language and culture to the borrowed ones eventually lost their identity over time. These ruined languages and cultures today are found only in folk tales. Today many languages and cultures are on the verge of extinction; according to a UNESCO study, from 1950 to 2010 some 250 languages disappeared, and with them the rich literary treasure lost for centuries. Moreover, UNESCO has warned that about half of the Worlds approximately 6000 languages are seriously endangered or are dying. This shows that by the end of the current century many times more languages will die. The reason reasoned here is the World is moving towards the fusion of civilizations. If this happens, then the agreement on common heritage, values and traditions will become a distant dream.
Why are languages and cultures dying? To understand this phenomenon, we need to analyze those languages and cultures that are constantly expanding at the expense of others. English stands out among them; all the underdeveloped, underdeveloped third world countries of Asia and Africa, where employment opportunities are scarce; brain drain is a major problem these countries are facing. Since these places can not offer a bright future for their promising youth, so move to those places that reward them according to their talent. This migration to another civilization for better economic opportunities weakens the relationship with their roots and their second or third generations rarely look back towards their past. Therefore this cultural attack is likely to affect more those countries that have weaker economies. Linguists believe that over half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the current century.
This fear of extinction has led the world community to observe International Mother Language Day every year on February 21st. This day is observed with devotion to preserve and protect the mother tongue; as well as to honor the Bengali students killed by the Police on 21 February 1952, whose only request was that they not be forced to leave their mother tongue. Scholars believe this was a key factor that led to the fall of the Dhaka. A few months after the creation of Pakistan, the Bengali language was removed from postage stamps and banknotes, only Urdu and English were officially recognized. Bengali intelligence was disturbed by this movement and nuance of resistance seen once again in Bengali literature. Daily Millat wrote in the popular editorial: Apart from the mother tongue, knowing any other language as official is like embracing slavery. Daily Azadi wrote, If only Urdu is accepted as an official language, then those who have studied only Bengali, they will become illiterate and unfit for work in Government. Such articles created an atmosphere of resistance in East Pakistan; The Bengalis feared that the survival of the Bengali language would be a danger if ordered in Albanian. As a result in January 1948, they formed the Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishad to preserve and protect the Bengali language. Initially this body secretly organized that movement for the Bengali Language, however it was exploited by the forces that were against the united Pakistan. Historians believe that Quaid-e-Azam was forced to say that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan. Regardless of what was the logic and wisdom behind this decision; Quaid’s address led to regular movement for the Bengali Language. In 1948, Bengali students and civil society called for agitation and demonstrations began. On January 26, 1952, when the Constituent Assembly declared Urdu the national language, there were widespread demonstrations and strikes against this decision. A general strike was called on 21 February 1952, to check the situation, section 144 was set up. Even when the students gathered at Dhaka University, to disperse them, first the accused Police baton then opened fire. The Bengal War proved that different cultural and linguistic entities could not be linked together in the name of a single culture. On the other hand, this persistence made East Pakistan Bangladesh after 19 years.
Today, as we once again observe International Mother Language Day, we need to wonder if we have learned anything from the events of 1952; or still live in the same mindset where local languages become a symbol of class discrimination; in educational institutes are painted as symbols of ignorance and immutability? The worst victim of this thought is Punjabi. With over 200 million native speakers worldwide, it is believed that this was the language of the Harappan Civilization, despite its enviable history and literature, the Punjabi language is struggling for its survival. In this context, the anti-Punjabi behavior of the Provincial Govt. of Punjab is miserable. Punjab Government. never took steps to introduce Punjab officially and is inclined to discourage Punjabi Magazines, periodicals and daily magazines through an official policy. UNESCO recently declared the city of literature in Lahore; The Ministry of Information in this context issued an advertisement that did not include a single Punjabi literary figure.
It is unfortunate that we are celebrating Mother Tongue Day, but at the same time we are plotting to kill local languages, especially Punjabi. Today we will talk about the rights of all those languages that are on the verge of extinction, along with their rich heritage. We need to talk about the plots that are being made to stifle them. Keep in mind, if your language is alive, your identity is alive, and otherwise history will recognize you by a different name and identity.
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